Low Yat Plaza brawl: Kind words for Malay rescuers

PETALING JAYA - An account by a reporter who was beaten up while covering the brawl at Low Yat Plaza has brought a positive ray to an ugly incident that stirred negative racial sentiments among Malaysians.

Injured Sin Chew Daily crime reporter Chan Woei Loon, 28, noted the help from many Malays who were there during the riot.

Despite the racially-charged mob, Chan said there were other Malays who had saved him from further attack.

"After I was badly beaten up, the Malay reporters there tried to help me. There were also Malay members of the Civil Defence Department who rushed me to the hospital.

"The doctor who treated me was Malay.

"It doesn't matter what race you are. If anyone is in trouble, we are all there to help," he wrote in a first-person report in his newspaper yesterday.

The report was posted on Facebook and translated into Bahasa Malaysia by a friend.

Chan said the sorry episode was not caused by race but stupidity.

Having been a crime reporter for five years and covered protests and other such incidents, he had expected to emerge from Sunday's incident unscathed.

"But I was still beaten up and injured," he added.

Chan recounted that he and a photographer were assigned to cover the disturbance on Sunday night - a continuation of the melee at the mall the day before that was sparked by a handphone theft.

As he was submitting a story at a nearby mamak stall after a press conference at 11pm, another fight broke out.

"I saw China Press photographer Sam Kar Haur being chased and attacked by a group of people.

"He tried to escape but was pushed and he fell, and the group continued to assault him.

"I ran to his rescue, but there were 20 to 30 people bashing him. I could only try to shield him. Because of that, I was also punched and hit with helmets.

"At the time, a few Malay men pushed away the attackers and saved us," said Chan.

These incidents, he added, were a reminder that there were people who were willing to help anybody, regardless of race, when they were caught in tough situations.

"Let's reject racist comments," he said.

Chan and Sam were among five people injured in the mob attack near the plaza early Monday.

The police have concluded that it was a clear-cut case of theft that led to the violence, dismissing wild rumours on social media that it was caused by the sale of a fake phone and that race was an issue.

Sam, 33, said he could only cover his head with both hands after he fell as more than 20 people descended on him.

"I thought I would die," said the media photographer of seven years, adding that he was lucky to be pulled out by a policemen before the situation got uglier.

"At that moment, it felt like I had escaped from hell."

Sam said he was attacked despite showing the crowd his media pass.

For Kwong Wah Yit Poh photographer Calvin Foong Yi Kian, it was a baptism of fire.

The 20-year-old, who joined the press last year, said: "It was my first time seeing so many people running after me. I was terrified.

"I was kicked and slammed into a wall. I continued to run and desperately banged at the glass door of Sky Hotel.

"Luckily, the guard let me in. If not, my injuries could have been a lot worse," he related.

The episode left Foong shaken, his hand injured and his camera lens filter and hood cracked.

"One of the Malay employees at the hotel gave me a bandage and mineral water. I am grateful for that," he said.